SAN DIEGO — Donald Fehr, head of the Major League Baseball Players' Assn., made clear the MLBPA's dissatisfaction with the Padres' placing pitcher LaMarr Hoyt on waivers for the purpose of giving him his unconditional release during a meeting with Barry Rona, head of the baseball owners' Player Relations' Committee, and arbitrator George Nicolau.
The three met for approximately an hour in New York Monday and although nothing definitive came out of the meeting, Fehr said he hoped to settle the matter without a formal proceeding or order by the arbitrator.
"We'll know something clearly before the week is out," Fehr said.
The Padres have agreed to pay Hoyt the balance of his $3.2 million guaranteed contract and Nicolau reduced Hoyt's one-year suspension by Commissioner Peter Ueberroth to 60 days, which means Hoyt is eligible to be picked up by any team willing to sign him for the minimum salary of $62,500. But the MLBPA contends Hoyt's re-release was improper.
When the Padres originally released Hoyt Jan. 7, they maintained he had violated the "good citizenship" clause of his standard contract. Hoyt was arrested twice in 1986 for possession of tranquilizers and painkillers. He served 38 days in federal prison after being convicted for his second offense.
Nicolau, however, ruled that Hoyt was improperly released.
In keeping with the club's policy of dealing with players who have had continuing problems with drugs, the Padres re-released Hoyt but paid him as dictated.
Still, the players association was irked.
"We said privately what our public position is," Fehr said after Monday's meeting, which he described as businesslike. "We think it's improper and there's no way it can be sustained. All I can tell you about the proceeding itself is that if it becomes necessary to have this issue presented formally, I would expect we'd be able to do that in the very near future.
"I hope we can work it out with everyone complying with it without the need for further proceedings."
Said Rona: "We discussed various ideas and concepts. We may be able to resolve this without conflict."
Fehr said Nicolau was not asked to make a new ruling Monday and he didn't indicate how he would rule.
"I really can't comment on the rulings or my meetings with them (Rona and Fehr)," Nicolau said. Let's give them the opportunity to see what they can do."
Last week, after Nicolau's ruling, Rona said he was looking for grounds to overrule the arbitrator's decision.
On Monday, Rona said: "Technically speaking, we could not set it aside. Technically, it is correct."
But Rona said he is writing a dissenting opinion to state his views.
Rona said Hoyt's next step--before he would be eligible to play--is to register his new treatment program with the commissioner's office.
"We have to make sure he has an appropriate treatment program," Rona said. "And we have to give the player a drug-testing program before his re-entry into the game."
Hoyt has not commented on the situation since Nicolau's decision last week, but Fehr has been in touch with him.
"All I can say is obviously he's pleased we prevailed on the basic grievance and so on," Fehr said. "As to other comments, you'll have to talk to him."
Fehr said he didn't think a possible formal hearing might delay Hoyt's return.
"Ultimately, I don't think it would postpone it at all," Fehr said. "Because obviously he's going to need some period of time in the form of spring training. I hope it wouldn't postpone it at all. We'll have to see."